PUYALLUP, Wash. - The daytime shooting of a popular businessman and barber has left a community in Puyallup reeling.
The owner of JQ Barber Shop at 112 E. Stewart Ave. was shot multiple times on Wednesday while giving an 8-year-old a haircut. The shop is set up in such a way that there are individual rooms for haircuts, so the suspect had to walk into a specific area to shoot the victim, according to police.
The 43-year-old barber was pronounced dead at the scene.
You didn’t have to be a customer at JQ's to be treated like a friend.
Allen Simons, a Puyallup resident who always walked by JQ Barber Shop and who witnessed the aftermath of the shooting, said, "He [the victim] always had a grin on his face, greeting anybody that walked by."
The victim's positive presence in the neighborhood made the shooting even more difficult to fathom for Simons.
"It’s unbelievable that somebody would come by and want to hurt somebody like that. What the hell is going wrong with our country?" Simons said.
The victim's name has not yet been made public by officials, but a verified GoFundMe from family members identified him as Jose Velez. Flowers, along with his photos, were placed outside his barber shop.
Police do not believe this was a random attack.
"During the course of the investigation, we learned that this appears to be a targeted incident in terms of the suspect walked into the business, so it does not appear that the motive was robbery," said Capt. Ryan Portmann with the Puyallup Police Department. "Of course, that’s one of the primary focuses of our investigation."
The victim was the only one hit with gunfire. The child, who was getting their haircut at the time, was physically unharmed but witnessed the entire incident.
"That is a concern for us. We want to make sure the child has all the resources that they need to help them navigate through this difficult experience," Portmann said.
Portmann says investigators are confident they will be able to identify the shooter.
"I feel fairly confident that we will be able to identify the shooter. You know, we don’t have a lot of homicides here in Puyallup, so we’re going to put all of our resources into solving this crime and I do feel confident that with the public’s help we will be able to solve this," he said.
An arrest would provide closure for loved ones, but for residents like Simons, questions still remain.
"I mean, you hear of crazy things like this around the country, but who would think something like this would happen here in Puyallup, of all places? It’s not supposed to," Simons said.
The suspect, who ran off, is described as a man, about 5'08" who was wearing black pants, a black jacket and possibly a mask.
Police are asking people who work or live in the area who have security cameras to check them for a person matching the suspect description. If you have video of the suspect, you are asked to call the Puyallup Police Department tip line at 253-770-3343 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.